Our adoption story: The texts

After the holidays, it all started to get real for us and for EM.  She had scheduled C-sections so we knew that at one of the next Dr. appointments, we’d be getting a date.  Well, the doctor couldn’t get it together, she ended up in the ER a few times with contractions, it felt like we were on a constant rollercoaster.  I knew that he needed to stay in there and cook a little longer, but I also knew that I wanted him here and safe with us. The more we hoped for a date, the less it seemed like we were going to get one. Every Wednesday my phone was close by and I was on pins and needles making sure laundry was done and we could pack in an instant. Between Wednesdays I packed and repacked 100 or more times.

My friends threw me a BEAUTIFUL baby shower.  The love was overwhelming.  They say it takes a village to raise a child and I truly believe that we have the best village.  When I was diagnosed with my cancer, people rose up and rallied behind us.  The love hasn’t stopped, it’s grown and continued.  There will never be a way to properly show my gratitude for those around us.

On January 25th, we got the text.  Our sweet boy would be born on Friday, February 3rd in the morning.  We immediately began packing.  Vedran made plans with work, as did I.  We would leave after work on Wednesday, drive for a few hours and stop.  We’d get to Florida Thursday evening.  We planned to stay with Vedran’s parents but they didn’t know we were coming.  They knew baby was due in mid-February and we left it at that. We didn’t want them to worry and we also wanted that surprise factor.  “Surprise, your grandson is going to be born tomorrow!”

I was excited for a lot of things.  I was over the moon to meet our little man, I was nervous too.  I was truly excited for a road trip with my husband. Vedran can be kind of harsh, crass, a know it all.  But he’s also sweet and unknowingly hilarious.  Long rides in the car are when we have our best, most fun conversations. We dream out loud about things that may come true and some that we know won’t.  It’s still fun.  It’s a gentle reminder of why I chose him to be mine.

Well, those of you that have been following our journey, you know that NOTHING has gone as planned for us.  On Monday night, January 30th, about 7 pm, we got a text from our caseworker that EM was on her way to the emergency room.  She’d been nauseous and throwing up all day.  She said to sit tight, it may just be the flu.  Vedran got in the shower, I finished making dinner and we didn’t worry too much about it.  I have a special text tone for our caseworker so that it will alert me.  Vedran and I were heading to bed around 10 and my phone went off.  Vedran and I immediately looked at one another.  It was HER text.  Our EM was being taken back for an emergency C section at that very minute. HOLY CRAP!  We called my mom, threw stuff in the car and hit the road, sure that we would stop if we were tired.

We drove on pure adrenaline.  We stopped for gas and to pee.  We didn’t eat unless you count coffee and cheese danishes. Here’s where the crazy comes in.  It’s late at night at a hospital, the social worker isn’t there.  The agency caseworker got there 2 minutes after she was wheeled back.  What does this mean?  NOBODY had any information about EM or baby. I called the hospital around midnight and of course they couldn’t tell me anything.  I called EM’s cell phone but of course she didn’t answer.  We had to trust that everything was okay.  Finally, at 6 am, I was able to talk to EM.  She was okay.  She was on some serious pain meds from the c-section and didn’t really have any information on baby.  But we knew that she was okay and that was important to us. At around 10 am, we found out that baby was in the NICU.  We didn’t know why or in what capacity.  This is when the real worry set in. The drive went from silent, to conversation, to silent, to one of both of us crying quietly.  THIS was our labor.

Finally, around noon we heard that he was in the NICU and eating like a champ.  That had to be good news right? We were set to arrive around 3.  Our lawyer was going to meet us there.  We stopped at a rest area to clean up and change clothes, we both LOOKED like we’d driven 18 hours through the night on no sleep.  We arrived at the hospital and met our lawyer.  This hospital is HUGE.  We navigated the maze and went to see EM.  She wasn’t in her room so we headed to the NICU.  While waiting for the guard to enter in our information, my heart began to race, I began to get lightheaded and everything hit me.  I took a deep breath and prayed that I didn’t pass out.  We got the go ahead to enter the NICU.

As we were walking in, EM was coming out of the NICU.  We hugged and hugged and cried.  She told us how perfect he was and how it’s a miracle.  She wanted to see us meet him for the first time.  We all went back and there he was.  He was the most perfect thing I’ve ever seen in my life.  I asked the nurses if we could pick him up.  We did.  She asked if I wanted to feed him.  I was terrified but said yes. It took both Vedran and I to get him to eat.  The world around us disappeared and it was just us 3.  It felt like it was always supposed to be that way from the very beginning.

We spoke with the nurses who assured us he was perfect.  The nurse could tell we were exhausted.  She gave us directions to the cafeteria to get food.  We walked down there in silence, we ate in silence, we went to check on EM before heading back to Avery for a few hours.  We were both just so overly exhausted. The nurse assured us that he would be fine and that we should go get some rest.

We kissed his sweet head and navigated our way back to the car.  We were heading to Vedran’s parents’ house, unannounced.  This was going to be fun!

Our adoption story: The secret

When we started our adoption journey, we’d had the crazy idea that we wouldn’t tell anyone.  Well, I knew that would never fly.  So we made a strategic plan on who to tell and when.  We told the neighborhood and parents almost right away.  We couldn’t be with these people every day and keep that in.  Then we slowly told those closest to us as it felt right.

The first meeting was a Skype video call.  Vedran was at work and the agency had thought it would be a good idea for she (EM) and I to develop a relationship.  Oh my gosh was I nervous.  I paced the house.  Checked the phone and Ipad 100 times to make sure they were connected to the internet.  Finally, the call came in. EM and I looked at each other through the screens and both just sobbed.  I sobbed because of the overwhelming love, joy and sorrow that I felt for her.  It physically hurt not to be able to wrap my arms around her. We talked about our favorite foods, our hobbies, and just general small talk.  Vedran came home and wanted to hear all about it.  I immediately began making plans for us to go meet her in person.  I could not wait.  Unfortunately due to time and money, we had to wait until October.  EM and I had several more video chats like that, we began texting every so often and talking on the phone sporadically.  We rarely talked about baby or the pregnancy, I wanted to know more about her.

We had asked that the gender be kept a secret, then we asked that we not find out until we were at our meeting, then we decided that it was EM’s decision if and when she wanted to tell us.  It was very anticlimactic.  I was teaching a class and my phone chimed.  I knew she had a Dr. appointment so I glanced just to see who it was from.  When I saw that it was from her, my heart skipped a beat.  I read it and all that it said was “It’s a boy.” I waited until class was over and I texted her back with my joy, excitement and also a “How are you?”  I think this was the moment that she began her mourning.  This made it real for her.  I told her that I’d be here for her whenever she needed to talk.  Then I ran to Rural King and bought several “Daddy’s Hunting Buddy” onesies and had them on the couch when Vedran got home.

October came and it was time to meet her in person.  Vedran and I flew down to Florida.  We knew that this would be our last trip as a family of two.  We visited friends and family.  We laid around the pool.  We took an amazing day trip to Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Wednesday of that trip was the day.  The day we were going to meet the person that would forever change our world.  We got to the agency early.  We met our attorney who was just a wonderfully, laid back open book.  He was able to answer some questions that we had.  We were just a nervous mess.  The door opened and in she walked.  She and I hugged so tight and cried.  She instantly lifted her shirt and put my hands on her sweet belly.  We sat for hours over pizza and talked about life, music, hobbies, families, etc.

Vedran and I felt like it went well, but it was definitely a bit awkward.  Our caseworker texted afterward and said EM told her that she could have stayed with us all day.  That surely warmed our hearts.  This was also the moment that made it REAL!  We were going to have a baby and after the holidays, he was going to be here!  I think this was when I started to let my excitement grow.  I opened my heart, just a little, to the idea that a sweet boy was going to join our family.  And worry began to settle in.

I don’t know how to describe it.  Meeting HER was my first time being with HIM.  From that moment, I missed him.  I wanted to be with him.  My heart hurt not being able to feel him.  This was going to be a long few months.

My adoption story: The beginning

Disclaimer: This may not be politically correct.  Adoption is a very hard topic for all involved.  The adoptee, Avery, has experienced loss and will have to deal with that later in life.  The birth parents experience a loss that I can’t even begin to imagine.  They’ve made a choice to give their child a life better than they are able to at the moment.  The adoptive parents, well, I don’t really know what everyone feels.  I can only tell you what I feel.  So, here’s the overview of my story.

As I was rocking Avery to sleep tonight, I couldn’t help but feel grateful.  I also felt wonder.  The amount of things that had to happen to bring him into our life is overwhelming.

Throughout this journey, I had a multitude of feelings.  Some people feel called to adoption.  I don’t think that was our case.  It was a means to a family.  It wasn’t something we’d ALWAYS wanted to do.  It was simply the only way that we were going to raise a child/children. Throughout the process, I had to do a lot of soul searching.  We created a profile book, had a home study and signed up with agencies.  THAT was the easy part.

Within a couple of weeks we were getting e-mails and phone calls about situations.  We’d be able to read over the info and decide whether or not we wanted our profile to be presented.  We said yes to many and no to several.  We’d wait a few days after saying yes and then we’d get an e-mail that the expectant mother had chosen another family or chosen to parent.  We always moved on from these.  This was easy.  The hard ones were the ones that we chose not to be presented to.  I don’t know why this was so hard.  It felt as if we were saying no to a child.  Maybe a little bit of a beggars can’t be choosers mentality?  Our consultant assured us that those children would have amazing parents, someone would say yes. Nevertheless, I always felt TERRIBLE saying no.

I remember after one particularly difficult no, sitting on the porch with mom, crying that I just didn’t want to make our life hard.  Vedran and I have a great life.  We didn’t NEED a child to make our lives full, but we desperately wanted a family.

Avery’s situation started like any other Thursday.  We got an email about an expectant mother, I read it over and responded that yes, we’d like to be presented. Vedran and I had discussed through the entire home study process what types of situations were yesses, which ones were nos and which ones we needed to discuss. I told Vedran about it when he got home, like I always did.  I told him why this felt perfect, like I always did. We dreamt of the due date, like we always did.  We talked about names and futures and possibilities, like we always did. Then we went to bed and pushed it onto the back burner.  We got really good at getting excited for a quick minute and then moving on. The weekend came and went.  I woke up Monday morning, SURE that I was dying.  Mom rushed me to the Emergency Room where it was confirmed that I was having a gallbladder attack.  I made a comment about not having to go through childbirth but I was going to feel every other pain.  I had pretty much forgotten about the situation from Thursday.

The next day, my friend Susan came over.  We were sitting on the couch chatting.  My phone rang and it was a Florida number.  I always answer those because it MIGHT be an agency but it was almost always the Student Loan Debt Relief people. I answered, annoyed, and it was NOT them.  It was our lawyer, we’d been chosen.  I couldn’t believe it.  We had heard so many no’s in such a short time that I never imagined a yes.  Several things happened in that moment, I built a wall around my heart.  I was going to get excited, but not too excited.  There was paperwork that needed filled out, and LOTS of it.  Stuff needed to happen before baby arrived so we better get that ball rolling. We told our closest family and friends and that was it for quite awhile.

The agency was going to set up a Skype meeting between myself and the expectant mother.  I was excited, but also terrified.  What if…what if…what if….

To be continued…

You’ll have that…

As someone who works from home, there are weeks that I have my ish together.  I go to the gym, shower, fix my hair, put on real clothes and really feel like  I could conquer the world.  Then, there are weeks like this one.  Weeks where I don’t wash my hair, put on makeup or wear real pants and the house becomes a catastrophe around me.  The most I did outside of work this week was drive up the hill to take a bubble bath in my mom’s princess tub (more than once).  You know what?  I don’t feel bad about it at all.

When we started this adoption process, Vedran and I both prayed for a stork drop, a call that a baby was already born and we needed to be on our way.  This wouldn’t allow us all of the anxiety of a wait.  Guess what?  We were matched when our sweet expectant mama was only 8 weeks along.  I thought I’d die.  This was going to take forever (and in my mind, it has). We’ve also handled it really well.  We haven’t gotten overly excited or overly anxious.  We’ve put it on the back burner most days.  I haven’t had to rely on xanax at all…until the holiday’s ended.  OH MAN!

January 1st and my anxiety reared it’s ugly head full force.  I haven’t been able to think of anything else.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am a control freak of the worst kind. Vedran doesn’t dare ever even go to the driver’s side of the car if we’re going anywhere.  That’s my job.  I’m the driver.  Guess what?  In adoption, I am NOT the driver.  I’m not even the passenger.  I’m like the dang homeless person standing at the stop light waiting for a hand out.  Just waiting…and waiting.

I wouldn’t have it any other way though.  We’ve had this time to fall in love with baby and his mama.  We’ve been able to enjoy all the perks of “pregnancy”, nesting, day dreaming, planning.  Tomorrow, I get to have a baby shower.  So, no, I may not have the pregnancy hormones, but I sure do have the adoption ones.  I can’t make a decision to save my life and I cry at the drop of a hat (or an Amazon commercial promoting peace and love).

So, I currently have baby on the brain and can’t think of anything else.  I’m worried, excited, terrified, excited and so very ready to meet this little man.

Change

You ever carry around a bunch of change in your pocket or purse?  It’s heavy, lunky, uncomfortable…doesn’t seem to serve much of a purpose.  When you take that change out though, and collect it in a jar, it accumulates quickly into something useful.  Vedran and I collect and save our change.  It’s paid for new tires, medical bills, house repairs, home study fees.  Oh man!  While you’re carrying around that change though, it’s heavy, it’s uncomfortable, it’s a burden.

I guess that’s what change is.  Change is uncomfortable, all consuming but oh so necessary.

When I think about the change that occurred when I got that diagnosis of the “Big C”, I still become overwhelmed.  I become terribly sad for my loss.  There are still days where I feel like I’m drowning.  This isn’t the life I wanted, this isn’t the life I hoped for. This IS the life I was given though.  This IS the life I’m living.  So when a dollar is broken, you make change.  When a life gets broken, you make change.

Our lives have been full of change, especially lately.  In the last 3 years we’ve changed jobs (me, a couple times), changed states, scenery, homes.  It’s been uncomfortable.  When change begins, you hate it.  No one likes being the “new guy”.  No one likes feeling “clueless”.  You have to keep the end in mind.  Change is exciting.  Change leads to amazing things;  financial freedom, new friends, flexibility of schedule and many other joys.

So, here’s to change!  May you embrace it, collect it and love it.  I’ve always enjoyed change, both figuratively and literally.

The worry of parenthood…

And so it begins….the lifetime of worry. We had the meeting with the woman that will make us parents.  She’s perfect for us.  Our meeting went well, we talked, laughed, and anytime it began to get quiet, our social worker stepped in and saved the day.  To say we are in love would be an understatement.  This meeting made this all so very real.  It’s happening.

So last night, I laid awake.  How am I going to sleep when he’s here?  I can’t sleep when he sleeps because I need to watch him sleep and make sure he’s safe.  How often do I feed him?  How much do I feed him?  How many diapers should we have?  I don’t know the first thing about taking care of a newborn.  (Seriously, bring on the parenting advice!  Leave the judginess at home though.) Will he be happy? Happiness, that’s a big one.  I just want him to be safe and happy.

Adopting comes with a whole list of questions and worries, but so does pregnancy.  We want his mother to always be a part of our lives.  We hope that we will all be able to make that happen.  We hope that he understands that he is twice loved.

I can already tell that this is going to be a wild ride.  We may need a village, but that’s okay.  We have one!

Thirty four

Yup, that’s the magic number.  That is the number of years that it took me to feel at home in my own skin.  You would think that we would all be comfortable in our own skin.  It’s the stuff we’ve been wearing since the day we were born.  Who can we be besides our self? The problem is the world around us.  The media, our parents, our friends, society tells us what we should be. We should be fat, skinny, stylish, funny, quiet, outspoken, serious.  Really, all we need to be is who we are. Be you and DGAF!

It seems a shame that it took 34 years to figure it out.  It took cross country moves, cancer, and other junk to figure it out.  I guess I really have spent the last 34 years finding myself.

My therapist once said to me, “Don’t you feel sorry for all of those people out there that live a fairy tale?”  My answer of course was “NO!” She then went on to explain that their eyes are closed.  They’ve never had to experience eye opening tragedy, loss or heartache.  Their time is coming and sadly, it’ll be more difficult for them to push through it.   Now, it would be nice for everyone to live a fairy tale, grow old and die in their sleep at the ripe old age of 100 and never have experienced tragedy.  Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely.

I think what she was saying is that I can see now.  It’s like Harry Potter and the thestrals.  Most of the students couldn’t see them.  They were only visible to those who have witnessed a death and accepted it’s reality.

So, now that I’ve experienced it.  I can’t even describe the feeling.  I know that more, worse hardships will come my way in this long life that I have ahead of me.  But I also know, that I will survive those too.  I will come out better on the other side.

So, to describe what 34 feels like….it feels like that first sip of coffee, that AMAZING first stretch in the morning, a hot shower after a long hard day, diving in the lake on a sunny summer day, that first cool breeze of fall.  Do you get it?  Thirty four feels SOOO SOOO GOOD!